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Tuesday, 14 August, 2001, 20:41 GMT 21:41 UK
Beijing clamps down on 'Chinglish'
Beijing Olympics logo monument
Beijing wants its citizens to learn English
The authorities in Beijing have launched a campaign to improve English-language signs in the Chinese capital because some are so incorrect or awkwardly phrased that they confuse tourists.

The campaign comes a month after Beijing learned it had won the right to host the 2008 Olympic Games.

Speaking Chinglish
Sex or adult shop: Shops selling medicine and reproductive health equipment
At the gym: "The treadmill is in the middle of repairing"
Examples of poor English are to be sent to a panel of English teachers and foreigners living in Beijing and those not up to standard will be changed.

Beijing has also launched campaigns for its citizens to learn English, as well as requiring taxi drivers to pass English tests or lose their licences ahead of the games.

The signs use incorrect English or mix Chinese and English in a funny manner, often leading to confusion among foreigners, the official Xinhua news agency said.

"The misinformation has become a headache for foreigners," said Xu Qiang, a spokesman for a municipal committee in charge of promoting English learning in Beijing.

Mr Xu said problems range from obscure abbreviations, word-for-word translation of Chinese characters into English, improper omissions and misspellings.

Sex shop - or is it?

The signs appear on billboards, menus and many other places in Beijing.

For example, signs that read "sex shop" or "adult shop" are for shops that sell medicine and equipment for reproductive health rather than pornographic materials, Xinhua said.

A Beijing woman shows a kite with an Olympic design
Beijing is actively preparing to host the Olympics
It is not unusual to find signs at gyms that say: "The treadmill is in the middle of repairing."

Expatriates and local residents are alerting government officials to the defects through phone calls and e-mails, Mr Xu said.

The Singapore Government launched a similar campaign in April to get people to speak standard English instead of the local version known as Singlish.

Singlish is unique to the multi-ethnic city state, and uses terms from Chinese dialects, as well as from Malay and Tamil.

See also:

05 Apr 01 | Asia-Pacific
Singapore attack on 'Singlish'
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